When I wake in the morning I have noticed that in that first moment when I realise I am conscious I feel this kind of yuckiness or sinking feeling. I'm not sure quite how to describe it. I guess it's dukkha? It's a daily realisation about where I am and the effort and discomfort that entails. I don't want to face the daily struggle to survive life. When I'm on retreat I wake up fresh and light with a sense of joyous wonder about what is ahead. I am completely different person. The person I want to be. I suppose retreat isn't really reality. It's like a bubble frozen in time, buffered from external stress. But I want to feel like this in my daily life. I want to wake up and feel like I'm glad to be alive but I don't. I feel more like a slave or a pawn trapped in a shitty capitalist system, being used to prop up the greedy and powerful. I don't feel free in any way. I feel weighed down. what advice can you give me about this? Do I need to try and change how I'm seeing things and if so how? How do I have more of the energised joyous wonder??

4 Answers 4


The main principle of happiness and freedom, especially emphasized in Mahayana Buddhism, is unselfishness:

(1) We feel concerns about ourselves, and about various conditions which also focus into ourselves.

These concerns are created by fixations on good and bad - as they exist from our point of view.

For example, I see the modern human world as cruel, unjust, full of stupidity, destroying the life on Earth, doomed.

But that view comes from my particular perspective. If I take into account that in the past millions of people in Europe died from plague and famine, and many were burned alive for their views, I could understand that some progress actually happened.

We can conduct an experiment: think about the same ugly things when we are in a good mood. Then probably negative thoughts would not stay for so long, they would not occupy our mind.

That experiment shows that habitual thoughts accompany our emotional state. In an easy state we would have more optimistic view on the same problems.


(2) We can drop our self-centered concerns, and shift our attention to caring about others.

You might say it looks like too simple idea to really work well, but then let me ask: have you tried?

Mahayana has thoroughly developed system, called the way of perfections (paramitas). Most often we speak about Six paramitas (they are the main core of the path).

  1. Giving selflessly drops our egoistic burden. Every time we give without egoistic concerns, we return a step back to our original unconstrained and natural feeling.
  2. Discipline means to keep our wholeness despite habits and distractions which try to carry us away from our natural heart.
  3. Patience is an art of remaining relaxed. We have habits to be dissatisfied, to rush somewhere else rather than to be just here. Patience means we want to live every moment in complete wholesome manner. Not wasting our life in chasing feverish desires, not escaping this moment to self-compressed heat of constraint.
  4. Enthusiasm comes from understanding that if we remain passive then our energy dissipates, and we live in dull, gray world.
  5. Concentration is all the previous perfections together:
    • Selflessness.
    • Wholeness.
    • Relaxed presence.
    • Energy of joyful deeds.

Moreover, concentration means gathering of all our abilities, experience and knowledge, all our skills and open vision in the focus of being completely now.

It means we are able to control our mind, because it's not scattered; distractions can't catch it so easily.


  1. Wisdom.

It means prajna - the ability to see everything as it is. It guides our practice of all the other five paramitas. And these five paramitas in turn create open, clean mind, which means the mind of wisdom.

That way we actually drop oppositions and concerns. We have no burden anymore. We naturally are doing something to make the world more beautifil, but we definitely understand that doing that we don't need to make ourselves suffer.

PS. Several practical tips

1. Take the responsibility

Ordinary attitude is: "The world is so bad that my life is in misery, and I can't do anything about it".

Better attitude is: "Whatever be the world, I wish to use my life for the benefit of all beings".


Letting conditions make me waste my life has no sense. So regardless of conditions I decide to use my life wisely.

With that in mind, make a resolution to be responsible for your life and death by yourself, not letting adverse conditions make you useless.

2. Drop inner oppositions

Ordinary attitude is: "I should force myself to be a decent, effective person".

Better attitude is: "Whatever qualities I manifest, it's a resource and a field of exploration".


Trying to force themselves, people divide in themselves, try to manipulate with themselves and act against themselves. That leads to wasting efforts in struggles and creating inner resistance to our own endeavors.

With that in mind, you decide to accept whatever manifests in your mental continuum as a resource and a field of exploration - not struggling with that, but dissolving oppositions.

These two decisions can transfer you from a position of a victim to a function of explorer and scientist who studies how to improve human life for the benefit of all sentient beings.

  • 1
    I appreciate your comments but it comes across as idealistic and simplistic. This is all just a bunch of concepts and words. This is what I find problematic about some aspects of Buddhisms. It's presented as this simple thing like "oh you just need to do this and then you'll become enlightened" but life is not like that. I still wake up with this yuck heavy feeling, still drag myself out of bed to my meaningless job to make money to continue to pay my way through this rut/rat race. I can't just snap out of it because you present me a list of nice concepts.
    – Arturia
    Aug 15, 2017 at 0:45
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    @Arturia, see, I predicted your reaction. I said: "You might say it looks like too simple idea to really work", and you did exactly that, saying: "This is all just a bunch of concepts and words". This proves that I see your condition. Actually most people who feel like you feel, have basically the same problem. Habits. Whatever wise words you get you reply: "Oh, my life is much harder than you imagine, your recipe doesn't work". Of course it doesn't work, because you never tried. Actually recipes aren't very complicated. Using them is harder. But still possible. I know that from my experience!
    – chang zhao
    Aug 15, 2017 at 1:39
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    @Arturia, the system of Six Perfections actually works; it might be just a bit hard to see how you can really use it in your life, but indeed it's well working general method. I can't provide much guidance in that brief answer, because in order to sort out your hindrances, you might need to use several approaches. So if you wish my advice, let's talk in chat, or contact me through my e-mail web form: zen-do.ru/write
    – chang zhao
    Aug 15, 2017 at 3:42
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    @Arturia - (this is in no sense a dig) - there were 12x"I" in your last comment. Have another look at everything in your sentence from other perspectives. Consider the verbs, the actor and the acted upon. If I is getting nothing out of Buddhism, maybe I is the problem. Is Buddhism a quick fix? You'll notice that the jhanas progressively wean you off attachment. The eightfold path is represented as a wheel. You go round and round looking for things to get rid of, then maybe one day the wheel itself is discarded.
    – Simon H
    Aug 15, 2017 at 8:41
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    @Arturia, I added a couple of practical tips to my answer. Use them to find the path.
    – chang zhao
    Aug 15, 2017 at 11:13

You can leave the shitty capitalist system; which is often an inhumane daily struggle to survive life. Permanent retreat is an alternate reality, such as here: http://www.wbd.org.au/

Otherwise, try to find a job you enjoy, which can be difficult. It is important to enjoy our work.

While reflecting positively & gratefully towards work is the right method; in the modern world often work is contrary to our personal ethics, which is what makes it hard, difficult to enjoy & appreciate.

  • youre suggesting I become a monk??? So those are my two choices? Shitty rat race struggle or ascetic life in robes. Now I'm even more depressed.
    – Arturia
    Aug 15, 2017 at 0:48
  • Lol. I was suggesting to spend an extended period in a monastery as a lay man (that is, if it won't harm your worldly situation, such as if you must quit a job and will struggle to get a new job). Aug 15, 2017 at 1:09
  • Ok yeah maybe could be helpful. I'm feeling more and more desperate every day to change something
    – Arturia
    Aug 15, 2017 at 1:22

I feel this kind of yuckiness or sinking feeling.>

This is a different facet of anger. That is what Dukkha mean. Once you eliminate Dukkha (anger), you will not have this kind of feeling. You will face the world with equanimity and enthusiasm.

  • Yes I know what to do I just don't know how. You can tell me till you're blue in the face but unless I actually understand how to do it then I just go around in circles at the bottom of the mountain.
    – Arturia
    Aug 15, 2017 at 9:55
  • @Arturia. The Noble Eightfold Path explicitly explains what to do. Maybe you can look there for knowledge?
    – user2424
    Aug 15, 2017 at 11:30
  • @Arturia I agree with what Lanka said. Start observing five precepts and practicing some meditation,
    – SarathW
    Aug 15, 2017 at 12:11
  • SarathW you need to read a bit more before you place your comments. If you did you'd realise how flippant and simplistic your answer is.
    – Arturia
    Aug 15, 2017 at 22:36
  • @arturia Sorry, If I misunderstood you.
    – SarathW
    Aug 16, 2017 at 0:24

Your question made me think of this - https://youtu.be/1zdjYmhrA-A . Frankly, I don't think it would hurt to start by having a sense of humor about your situation. It will give you some perspective and help you distance yourself from the more oppressive aspects. As Zen writer Katsuki Sekida says, laughter truly is "the safety valve of the world."

What really stood out in your question, however, was this comment - "I don't feel free in any way." Of course you don't. Because you're not. Right now, your vision of reality is trapping you between the way you think things ought to be and the way they actually are. The relief you find on retreat is really only a temporary vacation. I think you'd be just as well served if you spent a week sipping cocktails in the Bahamas. It's really a fantasy to believe that there is some place in the world or some potential situation that will afford you some sort of perennial happiness. After all, retreats end, the girl serving your drinks in a pineapple gets old, and hell, the beach itself will probably be under thirty feet of water in a couple of years.

Fundamentally, you have to change your mind. This can't be arrived at through any amount of convincing or revelatory words. The only way to do that is through the sweat and tears that come with consistent practice. You need to find a sangha and a teacher. You need to sit regularly. You need to have faith in the process. No matter how low you sink, no matter how hopeless things become, you have to take up the jewels as your refuge and keep going. Things will get better.

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